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18.5.14

Prowl the Streets of Hokkaidō, いらっしゃいませ!

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Hokkaido is the ultimate destination when it comes to their wide variety of natural hot springs and spectacular post-card worthy sceneries. Hokkaido is not called "The Land of Hot Springs" for nothing; there's over 800 hot springs and most hotels have their oven own hot springs, so finding one is never a problem.

Well of course Hokkaido is not just about hot springs, it is also the birthplace of beer in Japan. Be surprised by how much this beautiful snowy city has to offer! Here is a list of attractions you should probably visit: 

Lake Toya 

Situated near an active volcano known as Mt. Showa Shinzan 昭和新山, Lake Toya is one of Hokkaido's most impressive landscape, definitely a must-see! Here's a little fun fact about Lake Toya: This lake has never turned into ice before, even during winter with the drastic fall in temperature. Also, you could also bring your own fishing rod and join the locals in a popular sport of fishing (there are plenty of Trout in the lake, always good to bring something back for dinner at zero cost!). 

Bear Ranch

You wouldn't want to miss the Bear Ranch at the Noboribetsu 登別市 area. Home to over 100 bears, watch them play and mingle together! You can also feed the bears during your visit there. Trust me, it is so fun to feed them! I remembered tossing an apple into a bear's mouth and it was a perfect 3-point free throw. How I wish I could do the same for Basketball. 

Otaru Canal and Music Box Museum

Otaru 小樽市 is a small harbor city on the coast of the Sea of Japan (1 hr North-West of Sapporo). See century-old and beautifully preserved stone warehouses lining both sides of the Otaru Canal and reward yourself with a beautifully crafted music box in Otaru Music Box Museum. I got myself an ornate kaleidoscope though. It's very handy and I can just look into it and get lost in the beautiful images whenever I have nothing to do. Also, Otaru is known for its beer and the freshness of its sushi. 


Okhotsk Tokkari Centre

The one and only specialty care centre for injured and lost baby seals in Japan. A conservation centre and home to 25 rare seals, watch them slap their bellies as a form to say goodbye and other funny tricks! 

Monbetsu Drift Ice

If you were to visit in the month of January-February, you will get to witness the yearly phenomenon of the drift ice. Monbetsu 紋別市 has taken on the drift ice as its symbol and has also become a centre for research on sea ice. Do get on an ice breaker ship, the Garinko-go II, for a sightseeing cruise through the drift ice. 

Abashiri Prison

A prison that was built in 1890s for holding dangerous criminals and also a museum that documents the daily life of prisoners. 

Hell's Valley

A large crater that was formed by Kuttara volcano about 200,000 years ago. Hot steam vents and sulfurous steams pour out from the sides of the red valley, thus giving it a very hell like appearance. There are 11 types of minerals and water temperatures can reach more than 100°C and it is also one of the major sources for the Noboribetsu hot springs 登別温泉. 

Ainu Kotan

Ainu Kotan is a small Ainu village in Akankohan. The Ainu are people of different cultural an racial background from that of the ethnic Japanese. They have been populating Hokkaido, nothern Tohoku, the Kurile Islands and Sakhalin. Only a small population remains in Hokkaido today. 



Things to do:

  1. Try the authentic Sapporo ramen at Susukino Ramen Alley, where there are over 10 established ramen restaurants to choose from. In my opinion, the best ramen I have eaten so far! 
  2. Try the local beer. Beers are served in almost every meal as a way of life for the Japanese, which clearly explains why the locals have such amazing drinking abilities! 
  3. Make Botamochi ぼたもち. A Japanese sweet made with sweet rice and sweet azuki (red bean) paste. Not only you'd get a good workout session from all the mochi pounding, the energy was SUPER. It was like having a friendly pound-off, Japanese style. An experience you will never want to miss! If you still don't know what I'm talking about, watch the video here
  4. Taste the local sulfur steam egg while at Hell's Valley. 
  5. Taste the famous local flavored ice-cream. Comes in flavors like lavender, milk and melon. 
  6. Ride the snowmobile. If you're game enough to do other snow sports, go for it! ;) 


Fierce and Love,
J

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